Green Narrows Race 2021

by | Dec 8, 2021 | Events

One of my biggest goals in kayaking has finally been achieved, racing the Green River Narrows. Every year, on the first Saturday of November, the “greatest show in kayaking” goes down. The 2021 event attracted 170 racers who put their skills to the test against one of the most technical race courses in the sport. With two classes made up of long boat and short boat, everyone was tested with difficult rapids, tight moves, and a huge mass of people screaming at them for the majority of the course. 

For me, training for the race went relatively well. Getting 29 total practice laps and having many different water levels, it was good to see every situation and learn all the spots you did and didn’t want to be in. On my second longboat training lap, I decided to try and run Go Left for the first time in that boat. After tripping over my paddle, I fail down the drop and hit my face and split my eyebrow open which resulted in a few stitches. On the plus side, that was my only bad/scary experience during training.

With that happening, I tried the long boat a few more times and couldn’t get in the right headspace for it so I decided to race short boat. The next 2 weeks of laps were good fun. I wasn’t too stressed out or terrified, I was just having fun paddling with the homies. The night before the race everything started to settle in. I awoke super nervous after a restless night of sleep. That morning, I listened to a lot of music and tried to distract myself as best I could. When we got to the parking lot at the put-in, I saw all my friends and the stress died down a little bit but it swelled back up during the hike to the river. I decided to hike down to Gorilla which is the biggest rapid on the course and by where most of the spectators set up. After watching over 120 racers go, I started the walk back up to the top, with my nerves at an all-time high.

I got in my boat and paddled around for a minute or two in the top eddy while the 20 people before me started their race, and soon enough it was my turn to go. With a 10 second heads up, I zoned out and found the head space I had been looking for. I was trying to pace myself through the top part of the course so I wasn’t too gassed coming into the big rapids but I was also trying to go as hard as I could. I came across the big pool, signaling that the big rapids were right around the corner. Once I got through Go Left with a pretty clean line I was stoked. I got a second burst of energy which got me to the bottom of Zwicks and as soon as I got through Chief’s it was a full sprint. There was a wall of people screaming and yelling to go faster. I made it through the Notch at Gorilla and got pushed into the wall a little bit, but nothing too terrible. Taking a boof off the pad I turned a little to sideways and got stuck in Speed Trap which is the little, but brutal hole, at the bottom of Gorilla. With one quick back plug I was out. Back to charging through the slides all the way through the finish line. When I crossed the finish line I was gassed. I could barely take a forward stroke but that’s when you know you went as hard as you could. I was so excited to be at the bottom of the course with a smooth run and no injuries. Later that night I found out that I broke the 5 minute mark with a time of 4:57 which was 3rd overall in short boat (and 1st in Junior’s short boat). 

In the end, I’m beyond stoked to race the Green after at least 8 years of dreaming of it. Huge shoutout to all of the people that gave me pressure and hype in the weeks leading up and to everyone who showed up on race day!

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